In comparison to other ‘shivalingams’, Gauri Kedareshwar lingam is different as it is divided into two parts. One part represents Lord Shiva & Goddess Parvati and another part is representative of Lord Narayana & Goddess Laxmi. The worship ritual in Kedareshwar Mahadev Temple is also different compared to other Lord Shiva temples. The priests perform aarti by wearing unstitched clothes. Along with offering bael-leaf (बेल पत्र), milk and Ganga water on the ‘shivlingam’, ‘khichdi’ (खिचड़ी) is also offered in ‘bhog’ (भोग). It is believed that Lord Shiva himself comes here to enjoy ‘khichri’. Kedareshwar, originally a temple in the Himalayas dedicated to Lord Shiva, is popularly known as Kedarnath. It is one of twelve jyortirlingas (द्वादश ज्योतिर्लिंग). As per the legend, Kedareshwara appeared in Kashi from the food (khichri), made up of green gram and kept as Naivedya by the sage Mandhata. The ‘navedya’ (नैवेद्य) then got transformed into a stone ‘shivlingam’. Therefore, the devotees believe that the existing ‘shivlingam’ is built of grains and self-manifested. Muslim invaders had tried to destruct the temple and the scars of the same can be seen on Nandi bull of the temple. Queen Ahilya Bai Holkar rebuilt the Kedareshwar Mahadev Temple in Varanasi in 18th century. She also built a ‘dharmashala’ (धर्मशाला) of 365 rooms and donated a piece of land in Tamil Nadu to cultivate rice for the temple. The temple is located right above Kedar Ghat and one of its entry is from the ghat side too.
The devotees visit the temple on a regular basis. But, there are some religiously important days like Ekadashi, Pradosh & Purnima when the number of devotees surge in the temple. Every year, Anna Abhishekam (अन्न अभिषेकम), an extremely sacred ritual of covering ‘shivalingam’ with cooked rice, is performed here. As per the prevalent belief, performing ‘puja’ & ‘abhishek’ of Lord Kedareshwar after taking bath in the Gauri Kund or Ganga is considered extremely auspicious. Offering ‘puja’ with milk, water and flowers on the Mondays of the Shravan month has special significance. The regular pujas in Kedareshwar Mahadev Temple are performed by Kumaraswamy Mutt of Tamil Nadu. Four ‘aarti’ in a day are carried out at 4 AM, 10 AM, 4 PM & 9 PM.